Street Music and Islam
I am a flute-player, and a Muslim. I believe that when I play my flute, because I am totally submitted to Allah alone and because I focus my mind on Allah entirely with all my strength and heart and spirit when I play, that inspiration comes down to me from Allah and manifests in my music. This is a mystical practice. I keep my posture good while I play, so that the divine forces from Allah will descend down through my skull and into my instrument, and my music benefits those passing by and everyone and everything around me. I believe that the soul flows through, into and out of the body. I believe that the soul flows into, through, and out of the body along with one’s respiration. So when I play my flute, and I am praying and meditating as I play, my music becomes blessed by Allah because of how Allah blesses the air that moves through me via my respiration. The flow of the soul starts at the top of the skull and travels straight down through the body and the spine. Since posture seems to influence the quality of the flow of the soul through the body, I keep good posture so that my soul flows as smoothly and as efficiently as possible through my body. This is much like the Yoga concept of prana and apana, life force flowing through the body along with the breath.
The Qur’an and the Torah both say that when Allah created Adam – who, being an allegory, was both a literal individual man and a symbol for all of the human race, (the word “adam” actually means “humanity” or “mankind” in ancient Hebrew ) – that Allah shaped Adam from mud and gave him life by breathing into him from His spirit, (Qur’an 15:26-29 and Genesis 2:7). And The Qur’an makes it clear that the soul leaves the body at the time the body dies, when the soul reaches the throat, (as in when you give out your last and dying exhalation), ( Qur’an 56:83-85; 75:26-30). So from the scriptures it is clearly evident that the soul moves into, through, and out of the body with the respiration. When I play my flute, because it is a wind instrument I connect to it with my breath. I move my soul through it, and it becomes like an extension of my own body. So the music it produces is essentially my own voice, or the voice of my own soul. Thus, if Allah blesses my soul while I am playing my flute, the music I make becomes blessed and holy. So when I turn my flute-playing into an act of focusing my mind and heart on Allah and into an act of worshiping Allah, I am letting Allah channel holy music into the world through me that blesses the world around and within me. My music is a prayer, a hymn, ode, and imploration to Allah.
People ask for money on the streets because they are in need, and many are sad that they cannot earn it. If we teach the homeless and poor to play instruments, and teach them for free, they can become a real benefit to society and can also earn the charities of the people. If they earn it fairly, they will feel much better and they will become happier even though they are needy and homeless. Happiness of the soul is much more significant than one’s worldly conditions, and even the most materially destitute person can become the most spiritually happy and rich person through the joy of the soul itself. I believe that the people of the world should take every chance they can to go out, give out wind instruments to the needy and the homeless who are willing to accept them, teach for free how to play them those among them that are willing to learn, and allow them to put their music to use. They can earn their charities, and, if they play their wind instruments in the spiritual way that I do, then they can bring divine blessings from Allah into the world.